Field notes are notes, documentation, sketchings, recordings and photos taken while in the act of observing something. It could be people or an object, experience, event or experiment.
To me there is no hard fast defintion of what constitutes the field part of field notes. If I'm taking field notes, I'm outside of my home. If I attended school, I'd be outside of the classroom. If I'm making notes in a lab, do I consider that field notes? Not sure.
When I'm out and about and taking notes, it's usually to facilitate learning and understanding. I also collect information in order to access at some future point. I use a small memo book, camera and smartphone.
Okay, so here's where I'm going with this. I am smitten with field notes, that is, field notes and Field Notes. I fell for Field Notes while helping Dan Pink to promote his book To Sell is Human. Dan had Aaron Draplin and Coudal Partners customize a To Sell is Human Field Notes memo book.
Then shortly afterward, I saw Aaron's film where he talks about the inspiration behind Field Notes. That did it. I connected with everything Aaron said. Especially where he says, "they mean regular people working really hard."
Nick Long of Ephemeral Pursuits does a masterful job here expressing his thoughts on Field Notes! Actually Nick does a masterful job expressing his sentiments on movies, literature, fine books, epherma and TV shows at Ephemeral Pursuits as well.
I was looking for a few different reviews where I could say, "yeah, me too!" Then I'd post those at my Google + account and move on with my life. The problem was, although I read some really good stuff like Nick's post, I didn't find anything similar to how I feel.
I have a few different ideas and thoughts which I'll present over a series of posts. The first is my take on the Field Notes brand.
The Field Notes Brand
I get the partnership between Aaron and Coudal. I love what they are creating and how they take it to market. My perception of Coudal? In crossing paths with them in cyberspace, I come away with a good feeling. I want to continue learning more about them and keep an eye on stuff they are making. Without Aaron however, there is no Field Notes brand. Well, of course there is a brand. But it isn't the brand that stirs my soul.
Aaron represents working class, real people. He appreciates the thought, design and craftmanship that went into yesteryear's memo books. He appreciates that people wrote stuff of value to them, in them. He gets a little wonky thinking about these prized possessions ending up in a landfill. Aaron's appreciation, thoughts and ideas are the corn that goes into the ethanol of Field Notes.
A brand is a person's gut perception, right? I think a lot of folks are experiencing Field Notes minus the corn of Aaron Draplin. A few popular designers or people who appreciate good design, use the Field Note memo books. They write about what they like. They compare it to Moleskine. Eyebrows are raised. People are turned on and place orders. Even without Aaron these babies are gonna sell. One sign I see to this brand fork in the road reads Hipster. The Coolies with their Cooly minions.
I am simply trying to identify a persona. I make no judgement. Like one famous American once said, "...that's alright this is a free country, live like you wanna live."
The Hipster interstate however, does not run through the cornfields of Illinois, Iowa or Michigan. And, it is my gut feeling that that's where the grist for Aaron Draplin's Field Note's mill comes from. As Aaron says in the film, "...just dudes sittin' around talkin' corn man, that's pretty good!"
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Traveling salesmen memo book photo: Field Notes
Aaron's Draplin photo: 10 Engines